Bloomington, Minnesota: More Sports Than You Ever Imagined
31 Dec, 2012By: Juli Anne Patty
You know the Mall of America, one of the world’s biggest malls and home of an indoor theme park. But did you also know that Bloomington, Minnesota, is home to one of the country’s premier ski jumps? It just goes to show, there’s always something unexpected and amazing in Bloomington.
Where Athletes Soar
In the winter of 2013, elite athletes from all across the United States will soar up to 250 feet from one of America’s most challenging ski jumps. This extraordinary competition, the USSA Junior National Championships, will bring together the country’s best athletes at one of the country’s best ski jump facilities: the Minneapolis Ski Club in Bloomington, Minnesota.
“The ski jump is probably our most unique venue, and it’s an incredible asset,” says Todd Lehrke, associate director, sports development, Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But it’s just one of Bloomington’s many incredible facilities and amenities, all of which make our city a favorite among sports planners.”
Home to a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities, Bloomington is a year-round sports destination. Venues for virtually every sport and any size event are located just minutes from the city’s 38 comfortable hotels. Bloomington is home to 8,200 hotel rooms, more than nearby Minneapolis and Saint Paul combined, and all are situated within minutes of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and an array of dining options and world-class attractions, including the Water Park of America and Mall of America®.
“The Mall of America is one of our biggest draws, and the Water Park of America, which is the tallest water park in the country, is also extremely popular,” says Lehrke. “Put our attractions together with our outstanding venues and sports experience, and Bloomington makes the ideal event destination.”
Indeed, for several years running, the city has hosted Minnesota Made’s largest hockey tournament, an event that draws around 200 hockey teams from as far away as California and Norway. The event uses the three rinks at the Bloomington Ice Garden, as well as 10 additional rinks in nearby facilities.
Bloomington is also co-hosting, along with Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the 2015 National Senior Games, an event that will bring more than 12,000 athletes to compete in 22 events all across Bloomington and the Twin Cities.
• Baseball: a number of premier baseball facilities, including more than 20 fields within a short drive of one another.
• Basketball: 15 state-of-the-art courts in two venues less than three miles apart.
• Bowling: AMF Southtown Lanes (one of several bowling venues) is one of the largest bowling centers in the country, host of the Minnesota USBC Open Championship, the Minnesota Special Olympics Tournament and the American Blind Bowlers Association's National Tournament.
• Cheer and Dance: unique venues like the Mall of America rotunda offer an extraordinary experience, just minutes from hotels and an international airport.
• Disc golf: one of the Midwest's premier Disc Golf venues at Hyland Ski & Snowboard area, a beautiful 18-hole course that is home of the Professional Disc Golfers Association's Annual Majestic Open.
• Figure skating/ice hockey: ice sports abound at the Bloomington Ice Garden as well as a number of nearby arenas, host of U.S. Adult Figure Skating Figure Skating Championships and the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, as well as numerous hockey tournaments, invitationals and championships.
• Golf: over 50 metro area golf courses to choose from including Hazeltine National Golf Course, host of the 2009 PGA championships and designated for the 2016 Ryder Cup.
Minnesota At Your Service
In keeping with its impressive venues and attractions, Bloomington is also a destination that works hard to find new ways to serve and amaze. The city’s online housing system is just one example.
As part of the service, the Bloomington CVB handles all of the housing services for the event, establishing an impeccable level of personalized services for the tournament director and attendee. Events that require two or more hotels and a room block of 250 or more qualify for online housing services.
The CVB also developed the Sports Grant Program to create new or enhance existing events that attract out-of-town visitors to the city, increasing hotel occupancy and providing economic development for the community. The CVB’s Sports Grant Program Committee (SGPC) review applications twice a year, awarding grants of up to $2,500 to qualifying events.
The Bloomington CVB also makes event promotion a simple and successful task. Book an event with a Bloomington hotel, and the CVB will create a customized Web page for that event. The page allows attendees to access details and event updates online at any time, including location and time, accommodations, special rates, maps, and an event agenda.
Bloomington, and Minnesota in general, are also outstanding locations for events that require volunteer support. Community involvement is a word that often describes the Twin Cities area and Bloomington. During the 2008 Republican National Convention, Minnesota’s citizen volunteers, with their “you betcha” attitude, provided the crucial support that made the historic event a remarkable success. The Host Committee was able to recruit more than 10,000 volunteers to help with the once-in-lifetime event. The 2009 PGA Championship also utilized volunteers, and Bloomington CVB staffed the information booth at the tournament and local hotels. The CVB helps event owners tap into the city’s volunteer database as well, with names and emails ready to go.
The True Center
Beyond venues, comfortable hotels, exciting attractions and great customer service, Bloomington has another ace up its sleeve, one that has made it a favorite of event planners for years.
“We’re a favorite value destination for event planners and fans, since our hotels are reasonable, plentiful and easy to get to. They also happen to be close to many of the attractions people definitely want to see before leaving town,” says Lehrke.
Bloomington is located right between the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and is only one mile from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. The light rail connects the Mall of America, MSP Airport, and Minneapolis in a matter of minutes. More than 40 million people are less than a day’s drive from Bloomington, making it a tournament location with major draw. Less than one and a half hours by air from anywhere in the Midwest and three and a half hours from any city in America, Bloomington is truly at the center of it all.
The Sports Hub of America
Bottom line: choosing Bloomington gives athletes and teams chance to travel to a destination that they want to experience. A location that is accessible, affordable and exciting for both athletes and their families, Bloomington offers unique experiences that rival some of the country’s top locales.
Bloomington provides a dynamic mix of first-class attractions, vibrant restaurants and elegant hotels. From an exhilarating walk in a wildlife refuge to a relaxing dinner at an exceptional restaurant, Bloomington offers everything from world-renowned attractions to locally loved experiences.
The pinnacle experience for Bloomington visitors, of course, is the Mall of America, boasting 520 stores, free parking, free shuttles and fabulous indoor entertainment. Perhaps one of the Mall’s favorite features is no tax on clothing and shoes, a factor that inspires visitors to leave a little extra room in their luggage for some great buys.
The Mall of America is certainly Bloomington’s crowning attraction, and the Bloomington CVB works in partnership with the Mall to ensure that athletes and their families have the opportunity to take part in the Mall of America experience.
“We know that many families choose to come to tournaments here so that they can visit the Mall of America, and it’s a fun and important part of their trip,” says Lehrke. “There are always opportunities for events to visit or even take place at the Mall, including book signings and competitions in the rotunda. We always want to be sure that there’s some kind of add-on that makes it easy for families to take advantage of our amazing Mall.”
Bet on Bloomington
For more information about how Bloomington can put your event at the center of it all, visit www.bloomingtonmn.org.